The Program team is composed of experienced multidisciplinary transplant professionals who are accomplished in clinical research, outcome studies and transplant management. They are responsible for operating and evaluating the program.
University of Kansas School of MedicineKansas City, KS
Arbor Research Collaborative For HealthAnn Arbor, MI
Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. Louis, MO
Consultant, Division of Transplant Surgery, Mayo ClinicPhoenix, AZ
American Society of Transplant SurgeonsArlington, VA
Dr. Akinlolu Ojo is the Executive Dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Dr. Ojo received his medical education from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Kentucky. He completed a nephrology fellowship, PhD in Epidemiologic Science and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Ojo's research interests include clinical transplantation and chronic kidney disease with a particular focus on African Americans and developing countries. He has authored over 120 peer-reviewed publications and has served on the editorial boards of several journals and on NIH study sections.
Dr. Ojo maintains an active clinical and translational research program with a portfolio of both NIH and industry funding. He is member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Ojo maintains active research collaboration with investigators in Austria, Brazil, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. Dr. Ojo currently works with the Ministries of Health of several Caribbean countries to improve access to kidney disease care, including dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation. Dr. Ojo was previously the Associate Vice President for Clinical Research and Global Health Initiatives at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. Dr. Ojo came to that position from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he served as Professor of Medicine and the Inaugural Florence E. Bingham Research Professor in Nephrology. Dr. Ojo is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with expertise in chronic kidney disease kidney and kidney-pancreas transplantation and Global Health Research. He is the Program Director for the HRSA/DOT-funded National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC), which provides reimbursement to financially needy live organ donors for non-medical expenses incurred in the process of donating an organ.
Dr. Merion is President of Arbor Research Collaborative For Health and Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Michigan. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a transplant surgeon and has served as project director on a variety of important federally funded organ transplantation research projects. He is internationally renowned for his seminal research initiatives in both therapeutic and public policy aspects of transplantation. Dr. Merion is widely published in peer-reviewed publications. He is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Transplantation, Chair of the Adult-to-Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation Cohort Study Steering Committee, Clinical Transplant Director of the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and Secretary of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.
Dr. Merion will serve as the NLDAC Program Deputy Director. In this capacity he will deputize for all the duties and responsibilities of the Program Director as necessary. Dr. Merion will serve as the lead research scientist responsible for directing the operations of the research/statistical analysis core. He will also serve as the key liaison between the National Living Donor Assistance Center and the SRTR in any collaborative effort that HRSA may direct the two projects to undertake.
Barry Hong is a Professor of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Dr. Hong has a Master in Divinity Degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and received his PhD in Psychology from St. Louis University. He is board certified in clinical psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He serves as the Vice-Chairman for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry and the Chief Psychologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He has had numerous appointments in the area of organ transplantation. He has served as a Psychological Consultant to Mid-America Transplant Services since 1992 and has been a member of the Advisory Council and is the present Chairman of the Missouri Kidney Program. In addition, he has worked with the liver and renal divisions at Washington University and has been an active member of the kidney and liver transplant services.
Dr. Hong is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings and has previously served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and PsycCRITIQUES. Both are journals of the American Psychological Association. He has authored 50 peer-reviewed publications and has received Honors from the American Psychopathological Association, Missouri Psychological Association and Divisions of Health Psychology and Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Hong will provide content expertise to the development of data collection instruments. He will serve as the lead scientist for methodologic issues. He will lead the effort in refining research hypotheses to be tested. He will work closely with the staff in Research/Statistical Analysis Core to ensure integrity of the data collection and evaluation.
Dr. Mathur is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. His clinical practice includes living donor and deceased donor transplant of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Dr. Mathur completed his his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Florida, and his internship, residency and transplant surgery fellowship in the the University of Michigan Health System. Dr. Mathur also completed a Master of Science in Health and Health Care Research through the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2010. Dr. Mathur is board-certified in general surgery and has completed an ASTS multi-organ abdominal transplant fellowship. He was awarded research funding from the National Institute of Health and the Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities in 2008 and 2012. Dr. Mathur has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters. His academic interests span several areas of health services research in end organ failure, organ donation, and transplantation.
Dr. Mathur is the Program Evaluation Specialist for the National Living Donor Assistance Center. He is responsible for the development and reporting of program metrics under the direction of the Project Director and Deputy Director. Dr. Mathur is also responsible for identifying broader program implications on transplantation via dataset linkages with relevant demographic and transplant databases.
Kimberly A. Gifford is the NLDAC program manager. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Park University and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in 2010. Ms. Gifford has been part of the ASTS staff since 2005.
As the former ASTS executive director, Ms. Gifford was involved in numerous initiatives that contributed to ASTS’ overall growth including the development of the Academic Universe and establishment of the Transplant Accreditation and Certification Council (TACC). She has demonstrated the ability to galvanize team members, build collaborative relationships and engage other stakeholders to achieve results. She routinely partners with other organizations to achieve common goals. Ms. Gifford is experienced in analyzing operations and implementing systems and processes to maximize efficiencies.
Ms. Gifford will provide managerial leadership in overall administration of the project and will prepare financial reports as well as ensure quality controls.
Sidni Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been the NLDAC Senior Program Coordinator since March 2020. Ms. Brown has been part of the transplant community since 2015. She worked primarily as an abdominal pre-transplant social worker for Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana before joining the NLDAC. Prior to her work within the transplant community, Ms. Brown worked with patients suffering from bleeding disorders, sickle cell disease, and cancer. Ms. Brown received her undergraduate degree in event management from Indiana University Bloomington. She worked as an event and convention planner and manager for four years prior to obtaining her master’s degree in social work from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.
Ms. Brown is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NLDAC and serves as the leader interfacing with transplant centers to ensure all eligible living donors know about the NLDAC program and have access to its funding. She also helps evaluate the impact of the program on living organ donation.
Holly Warren is a registered nurse and has been the NLDAC Program Coordinator since 2007. Ms. Warren has been part of the transplant community for nearly thirty years, and has held a variety of positions. She worked in hospital development at the organ procurement organization, Donor Network West, in Oakland, California. As a member of the heart transplant team at the University of Maryland, in Baltimore, she worked with patients on the heart transplant waiting list. Ms. Warren received her nursing degree from Fresno City College and her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from Fresno Pacific University.
Ms. Warren is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NLDAC and serves as the leader interfacing with transplant centers to ensure all eligible living donors know about the NLDAC program and have access to its funding. She also helps to evaluate the impact of the program on living organ donation.
Marie-Claire Walters joined NLDAC in August 2017. Ms. Walters graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2013 with a dual BA in Philosophy and Spanish. At Clark University, she was awarded the David Saltman Prize for excellence in philosophy. Ms. Walters was an English teacher in the Chilean public school system for two years prior to joining NLDAC. She is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Catalan.
Ms. Walters' duties at NLDAC include providing support to patients and transplant professionals in filing applications, administering funding to approved applicants, and educating patients, professionals and the public about NLDAC. She provides support to Spanish-speaking donors, transplant professionals, and members of the public, in addition to writing NLDAC’s newsletter, overseeing the website content, and creating educational materials.
April Bruce joined NLDAC as the Senior Program Assistant in 2021. As a member of the operations team, she processes applications and provides service to donors, recipients, and transplant professionals. She also leads an outreach program for centers with multicultural waitlist populations.
Previously, Ms. Bruce was a transplant social worker at the University of Kentucky Transplant Center, working with living kidney donors for 4 years and with kidney recipients for 5 years. She has a passion for transplant, especially living donation. April graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Social Work with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1989 and a Master of Social Work in 1992. Besides transplant, April also has experience with community agencies, geriatrics, hospice and supervising social work students.
Joanna Giddens joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in August 2020, with a background in community engagement and administrative support. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in Saint Louis and an undergraduate degree in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining NLDAC, she worked at Grace Meridian Hill church as the Community Life Coordinator. Ms. Giddens has worked with diverse populations through Americorps, social and economic development programs and other altruistic nonprofits.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Giddens provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about the program, processing applications, disbursing financial assistance, and supporting applicants throughout the donation process. She also manages NLDAC's social media accounts.
Catherine Kuo joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in August 2020. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with BAs in History and Chinese. At UC Davis, she was selected as one of the winners of the 2010-2011 Prized Writing competition. Prior to joining NLDAC, Ms. Kuo was an academic editor and client relationship manager in Taipei, Taiwan and a full-time member of a professional music ensemble based in Japan. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Kuo provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about the program, processing applications, disbursing financial assistance, and supporting applicants throughout the donation process. She also manages NLDAC's Advisory Group meetings.
Jean Hwang, MA, joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in December 2021. Prior to joining NLDAC, she worked with non-profits in the Washington, D.C. area supporting research and program management. She also spent time abroad implementing women’s reproductive health and post-traumatic stress disorder relief education programs in countries like Nepal and Tanzania. She has a master’s degree in International Relations.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Hwang provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about the program, processing applications, administering financial assistance, and supporting applicants throughout the donation process.
The Advisory Group was established to assist the National Living Donor Assistance Center in:
The Advisory Group meets annually, holds periodic conference calls, and is comprised of a kidney donor, liver donor, transplant surgeons, transplant physicians, transplant nurse coordinator, transplant social worker, health economist, social scientist, financial administrator and a HRSA representative. Below is a list of current Advisory Group members.
NATCO, The Organization for Transplant ProfessionalsAssociate Vice President, Transplant Clinical Services,Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division, Saint Barnabas Medical CenterLivingston, NJ
Transplant AdministrationCo-work Group Leader, Living Donor Consensus ConferencePast Chair, National Kidney Registry
The National Forum of ESRD NetworksExecutive Director, IPRO ESRD Network of the South Atlantic (Network 6)Morrisville, NC
ESRD AdministrationFormer Director, ESRD Network Coordinator CenterMember, Island Peer Review Organization
National Kidney Foundation
Kidney Transplant RecipientPatient Advocacy
American Society of Transplantation (AST)Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of MedicineStanford UniversityStanford, CA
United Network for Organ SharingProfessor of Surgery, Georgetown University School of MedicineDirector of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation and Medical Director of Transplant Quality Assessment and Process Improvement, Medstar Georgetown Transplant InstituteMedical Director, Inpatient Transplant Unit,Medstar Georgetown University HospitalWashington, DC
Transplant SurgeonPaired Kidney ExchangeUNOS President-elect
Transplant Financial Coordinators AssociationTransplant Financial CoordinatorSUNY Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuse, NY
Transplant Financial CoordinationTrustee, Transplant Financial Coordinators Association
Director, Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD
Federal Program Oversight
UNOS Transplant Administrators CommitteeSenior Director/Transplant AdministratorCincinnati Children’s HospitalCincinnati, OH
Leadership in Transplant Administration, Operations, and Strategic Planning
Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education ProgramCleveland, OH
Executive Director, Cleveland MOTTEPCommunity Health Education
American Society of Transplant SurgeonsSurgical Director, Living Donor Liver TransplantationUT Health San AntonioSan Antonio, TX
Transplant SurgeonLiving Donor Liver Transplantation
American Society of NephrologyProfessor of MedicineMedical Director of Living DonationSt. Louis UniversitySt. Louis, MO
Chair, OPTN/UNOS Living Donor CommitteeMember, SRTR Steering CommitteeFormer Director, NKF SCM Transplant Physicians’ Program and Kidney Transplant CourseNKF Shaul G. Massry Award Recipient
Professor of EconomicsStanford University, CAPalo Alto, CA
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic SciencesGuggenheim Fellowship for Social SciencesAuthorFounder, New England Program for Kidney Exchange
Society for Transplant Social WorkersTransplant Social Worker & Financial CoordinatorLankenau Medical CenterWynnewood, PA
Transplant Social WorkTransplant Financial Coordination
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)Novant Health, Vice President and Deputy General CounselCharlotte, NC
Past-president, UNOSLiving Kidney Donor
Public Health AnalystHealth Systems Bureau, Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD
Chief, Operations and Donation Education Branch, Division of TransplantationHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockville, MD